University of Wisconsin
School of Medicine and Public Health

Matthew Merrins, PhD

Associate Professor


MADISON, WI 53705-2221


  • Oberlin College, Oberlin, Ohio – BA in Biochemistry, Biology (Honors)
  • University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan – PhD in Physiology
  • University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan – Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Pharmacology & Brehm Diabetes Center

Professional Activities

Dr. Matthew Merrins is a faculty member in the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism within the Department of Medicine. He is jointly appointed in the Department of Biomolecular Chemistry, and the William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital. Dr. Merrins is a trainer on the Molecular Biophysics Training Grant (NIGMS T32), the Molecular and Applied Nutritional Training Program (NIGMS T32), and the Biology of Aging and Aging-Related Diseases Training Program (NIA T32). Dr. Merrins has received numerous research awards in addition to NIH R01 awards from NIDDK and NIA, including a Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NIDDK F32), a Research Scientist Development Award from (NIDDK K01), the American Diabetes Association Innovative Basic Science Award, an Exploratory/Developmental Research Grant Award from the NIA, and the Wisconsin Partnership New Investigator Award.

Research Interests

View Dr. Matthew Merrins' publications on NCBI My Bibliography

Research in the Merrins laboratory centers on the control of hormone secretion from the endocrine pancreatic islets of Langerhans, and how this is disrupted in diabetes. Our main interests lie in two features of nutrient metabolism in islet beta cells, (1) the ability to trigger hormone release, and (2) the ability to trigger proliferation, when the demand for insulin increases (e.g. during aging and obesity). These adaptive responses to environmental stress ultimately fail in diabetes.

To understand how this occurs, we utilize rodent models of obesity and aging in combination with biochemistry, patch clamp electrophysiology, and quantitative imaging. A central focus of the lab is the use of fluorescence microscopy (FRET, optogenetics, super-resolution and FLIM/2-photon) to monitor biochemical reactions as they occur in living cells. Our recent work is focused on the design and utilization of biosensors useful for real-time metabolite measurements, as well as the development of NAD(P)H FLIM as a non-invasive optical approach to study the TCA cycle and electron transport chain. Using these tools, we have been able to monitor metabolite production and second messenger signaling in a variety of pathways.